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Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC) and Ascension have signed a letter of intent to explore a joint venture to establish a leading Medicare Advantage plan. The MA plan would be established as a preferred model for the respective systems and affiliates for Centene and Ascension in multiple geographic markets beginning in 2020.

“We are pleased to pursue this joint venture with Ascension to create a differentiating offering for Medicare Advantage across multiple markets,” said Michael F. Neidorff, Chairman and CEO of Centene. “This joint venture will bring together two leaders with decades of experience across markets and creates an opportunity for scaled payer-provider collaboration. We share a commitment of serving the underserved and intend to leverage the best capabilities of both organizations to provide high quality, affordable healthcare to support the needs of low-income seniors.”

“Working with Centene to create a new Medicare Advantage plan aligns with our Mission of serving those who are vulnerable and struggling the most, which all too often includes our seniors,” said Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and CEO of Ascension. “We look forward to developing innovative, transformational approaches to serve this growing population in the many communities we serve as part of our Advanced Strategic Direction.”

The letter of intent signed by Centene and Ascension is non-binding and the joint venture is subject to due diligence, the negotiation of definitive terms and approval by each company's board of directors, among other conditions.